While movies like ‘No Strings Attached’ and ‘Friends with Benefits’ have promoted the idea of messing around sexually without any commitments, it’s not always as simple as it sounds. The entire purpose of friends-with-benefits typesetting is to enjoy the sexual side of a relationship without the emotional complications that come with it. But, often it can get even more complex than a committed relationship. It seems super convenient and thrilling, where you choose a good looking friend and introduce sex into the equation with consent, thinking it’s a win-win. In this article, we’ll argue for the exact opposite of this opinion; giving you reasons why it’s actually a lose-lose situation.
1. ‘Feelings’ are right around the corner
Sex is an immensely intimate physical activity that’s shared between two people. In fact, it is as intimate as it gets; completely letting your guard down and basically being completely physically free with each other. This naturally has an effect of inducing a sense of attachment between people, regardless of the tag they’ve given to their bond. It could be a friendship, a relationship, or a ‘situationship’; but it’ll always be two humans, with human emotions. When this happens, one person’s attachment and feelings tend to be on a different level than his/her counterpart, essentially destroying the friendship they had.
Aside from that, it can take a toll on your mental health as well. If you catch feelings for a friend after having signed up for a no-strings-attached agreement, it gets super complicated. It’s hard to keep your feelings and thoughts to yourself when the same friend has always been the person you share it all with. There’s even guilt for experiencing feelings that you know will ruin things, even though you agreed that there’s no space for romantic emotions in this simplified setup.
2. It keeps potential relationships away
Being busy with casual sex with a buddy, you wouldn’t be on the lookout for a real romantic relationship. Not only do your sexual needs get fulfilled, but also emotional ones through talking, venting, sharing – but all of this happens without any commitment.
At some point in your life, probably soon enough, you’ll need a real relationship that leads somewhere and means something. There’s a ton of reasons for this. For example; you’ll have no right to complain about your ‘friend’ having sex with other people as long as ‘he’s just a friend’, even if that makes you jealous. This is because there’s no commitment involved, and this model doesn’t work in the long run.
3. What if it sucks?
The whole ‘friends with benefits’ thing don’t always last very long, sometimes not even long enough to see another sexual encounter. In these cases, you try it with your friend and it absolutely sucks. There’s no chemistry, and one or both of you just can’t wait for it to be over and get dressed.
This brings you the worst of both worlds, where you failed to gain what you were looking for, and also can’t ever look at your friend the same way. No matter how hard you try to slip it under the rug, your brain refuses to forget stuff like this. You’ll associate this experience with your friend, and lose that purity in the bond pretty quickly.
4. It’s almost like you’re in a relationship
If you really think about it, all the activities that are done with one’s partner are also done with best friends. Talking about life, hanging out, emotional support, venting, joking around, and making plans – all of it is common with friends and partners alike. There’s just one exception though, which differentiates friends from a significant other, and that’s sexual activity. As soon as that also gets added into the mix under the label of ‘friendship’, things get super confusing really fast.
You’re unsure of what you are and aren’t allowed to feel, always redefining boundaries and rules since there’s no real commitment involved. Understandably, this becomes the root of arguments, disagreements, and complicated fights.
5. The friendship gets ruined
Speaking of arguments, fights, and disagreements – the friendship itself takes all the damage. What used to be a simple and unconditional source of friendly support, is now a constant source of toxicity and negativity. It hurts more because no party is completely right or wrong, because they both signed up for it, and even the person that catches feelings can’t be blamed, because it’s not like they could control that.
At some point, even if the two people agree that the ‘friend with benefits’ isn’t working out and needs to end, the problems carry on. While the sex might stop, the friendship just won’t ever be like it used to. Both parties have seen each other in weird positions (emotionally and sexually, both), and stuff like that keeps making things awkward forever.
6. Jealousy always finds its way in
We’ve touched upon this as an example above, but it deserves to be a reason in and of itself. No matter how strictly you predefine the boundaries and limits of what you’re about to enter into with a friend, some aspects of human nature will always find their way in. Jealousy is one of them, because in many cases when they start hitting on people other than you, it pisses you off.
You see them as ‘yours’ even if it’s temporary and without verbal commitment to support it. You’ve made yourself available to them physically, and it pains to see them seek it elsewhere too. Even though both of you signed up for this, you might still take a hit when they feel like going out with another person. What sucks is, there’s no justification for you to express your anger either, because it was always gonna be just ‘messing around’, and you never had the right to be jealous.
7. It’s not ‘just sex’
Sex has a weird way of introducing care and concern into participants for each other. Obviously, you won’t feel it right after the first time, but when it keeps occurring for a longer period of time, you’ll find yourself caring more about them, then you did as a regular friend. Understandably, especially caring more than usual about a friend introduces many unneeded complications into an FWB setup. They might not reciprocate the same care as you do, which won’t feel the best on your end. Again, you don’t have the license to complain about it though, because they were never obligated to attend to you as a romantic partner.
8. If it becomes something serious, the lines stay blurred
Not all FWB agreements between two friends follow the same pattern. In some of them, both parties feel a little something that’s more than just friendship and agree to take it to the next level. Then they mutually decide to commit and officially become a couple. But, because of the way it started off, the dynamic of the relationship always remains unclear.
Having been besties in the past, and then having had no-strings-attached sex, the required level of respect in the initial stages of their romantic relationship is vague, and leads to confusion. For many other reasons as well, a proper relationship that stems from an FWB setting becomes harder to navigate than a typical one.
9. It isn’t safe
Sex in a committed relationship is much safer than casual sex, regardless of who the participants are. Couples are supposed to stay loyal to one another and limit their sexual activity to each other. This prevents them from carrying over STDs from other people to each other and vice versa.
In an open relationship though, or in the case of ‘messing around’ casual sex, there isn’t a limit on how many sexual partners your ‘friend’ can have besides you. Both, you and your partner are at risk of exchanging STDs from your other sexual partners. Aside from that, the case of an unwanted pregnancy is much more concerning when there isn’t a relationship to speak of.
Good friends aren’t easy to come by. If you find pals that you can truly be yourself with, share valuable experiences, and just have honest conversations with, hold on to that. Casual sex might be an instant feel-good option but it always has more implications than we sign up for. One thing that’s true for all no-strings-attached arrangements, is that they have to end at some point.
Regardless of how smoothly it’s going, or how unaffected your friendship is because of it, sooner or later it has to end. At some point, one of you will find a real potential partner and have to call it quits on it. While all things come to an end, and that’s not necessarily a problem, but the fact is your friendship won’t be the same after it all.